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Causes and Considerations of Overtraining

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  • Category: Stress

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Overtraining is a physical, behavioral, and emotional condition that occurs when the volume and intensity of an individual’s exercise exceeds their recovery capacity. They cease making progress, and can even begin to lose strength and fitness. Overtraining is a common problem in weight training, but it can also be experienced by runners and other athletes.

Overtraining is the downside of training, the trap that can derail an athlete’s success. It’s a real physical condition caused by pushing too hard for too long. It can happen with too much exercise, too much intense exercise, or both. Its hallmarks are poor performances, exhaustion and apathy.

The primary cause of OTS is excessive training over a long period of time combined with inadequate rest. However, this does not appear to be the sole cause, which is another reason some experts prefer the term unexplained underperformance syndrome. The various symptoms of overtraining are understood to represent a maladaptation to the stress of training. Because all sources of stress, whether physiologic or psychological, are processed by the body in similar ways, sources of stress outside of training (e.g. job stress) can combine with training to create a total “allostatic load” that results in overtraining symptoms.

There are several ways you can objectively measure some signs of overtraining. One is by documenting your heart rates over time. Track your aerobic heart rate at a specific exercise intensities and speed throughout your training and write it down. If your pace starts to slow, your resting heart rate increases and you experience other symptoms, you may heading into overtraining syndrome. You can also track your resting heart rate each morning. Any marked increase from the norm may indicate that you aren’t fully recovered.

If you suspect you are overtraining, start with the following: •Rest and Recover. Reduce or stop exercise and allow yourself a few days of rest. •Hydrate, Drink plenty of fluids and alter your diet if necessary. •Get a sports massage. This may help relax you mentally and physically. •Begin Cross Training. This often helps athletes who are overworking certain muscles or suffering from mental fatigue. Research on overtraining syndrome shows getting adequate rest is the primary treatment plan. New evidence indicating that low levels of exercise, or active recovery, during the rest period speeds recovery, and Moderate exercise increases immunity. Total recovery from overtraining can take several weeks and should include proper nutrition and stress reduction.

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